Hussein Fahmi predicts further decline of Arab cinema

Wed Dec 08,2004

Prominent Egyptian movie star Hussein Fahmi addressed the media at the Dubai International Film Festival and predicted that Arab cinema’s standards and volumes will witness a further decline if immediate efforts to encourage growth are not implemented. These efforts included support from governments, increased security for film makers and commitment from the industry itself.

He added, “Arab cinema is on a decline and is heading the way of the French and Spanish cinema that are no more a force even within their regions. Even Italian cinema has lost its vibrancy and at this rate only American and Indian cinema are showing signs of future growth and dominance on an international scene.”

On the role of Dubai in regional cinema, Fahmi said: “The timing of this inaugural Dubai International Film Festival coincides with those being held in Cairo and Morocco and we will ensure that in future any such conflicts are avoided. We are happy to note that despite the overlapping dates, there has been a very positive response to our festival. I however feel that competition is in the interests of all and we should encourage each regional festival to find its niche. Dubai’s strategic location and exposure to a large number of cultures can provide the winning combination that encourages a turnaround in Arab cinema.”

Commenting on his foray into television, he said: “Television production is actually a much more challenging endeavour than most people realize, in some cases it is harder than making movies. Some projects that I am involved in have lasted more than five months of intense program generation.”

On his greatest disappointment, he said: “I have been in the profession for over 30 years. For 30 years we have met and discussed our industry at regional forums and agreed on the need for a joint venture that allows film makers creative freedom and brings about a resurgence in Arab cinema. For 30 years we have implemented none of our ideals. This situation has to change if we are to develop or even revive our industry.”

Paying tribute to Baheb El Cima, an Egyptian film by Oussama Fawzi being premiered at the festival, he said: “It is an apt commentary on the state of Arab cinema in relation to society and seeks to criticize all forms of oppression. Its release in Egypt in the midst of a wave of controversy was effectively countered by the public who thronged to the theatres making it an overnight success.”



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